Jesus said, “Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word. You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning.” - John 8:43-44 (NRSV)
I reached a major turning point in my relationship with Jesus when I realized what a jerk he could be. For the first big chunk of my life, the only Jesus I knew was the for-the-Bible-tells-me-so, eyes-like-limpid-pools version. I now know that there are people who grew up starving for that savior but honestly, lovey-dovey Jesus didn’t do much for me. Probably I was taking him for granted.
Then I read the Gospels and found that Jesus wasn’t anywhere near as huggy as I’d been led to believe. Compassionate—yes. Moved by pity—often. Also impatient, exasperated, sarcastic, ornery. The quote above? That’s how he talked to the people who liked him. Then there was the time he publicly disowned his family for being annoying. Even when he suffered the little children to come unto him, it was primarily so he could use them as an object lesson. He screamed at sea storms, then scolded his followers for having questions about it.
He was a little much. I’ll follow him anywhere.
I’m not super interested in active-listening-with-sustained-sympathetic-eye-contact Jesus. But a Jesus that’s holy and grumpy, empathetic and impatient, righteous and angry? He feels like a real person to me. One who understands human nature and still has no time for my bull? Who loves me and still can bite my head off sometimes? That’s a human God I can get saved by.
Jesus, I bet I’m not supposed to call your short-temperedness an imperfection. Whatever it is, it’s the thing that let me fully meet your love. Thank you. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is a father, husband, homesteader and preacher living in rural upstate New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.